Few things have frustrated the Dark Souls 3 community in the past few months as the ongoing debate over what the game's "poise" stat does. While I don't have an answer to that question, I can pass on an apology from series director and From Software president Hidetaka Miyazaki. The Dark Souls games are intentionally mysterious, but From Software has made a frustrating habit of doubling down on this idea, to the point that players can't always comprehend how basic game mechanics work. In previous games, upgrading the poise stat meant players could take hits without staggering. In Dark Souls 3, it has zero influence on staggering, despite many elements in the game suggesting that's what it does.
Here's how that plays out:
Video Credit: SteamBoy27
See how the player keeps getting knocked around, despite wearing heavy armour meant to enhance poise? It'd be fine if From Software altered the way poise works for Dark Souls 3, but it'd be helpful for players to know!
Instead of just explaining how things work, however, From Software has kept players in the dark. In May, publisher Bandai Namco passed on my questions about poise to developer From Software, and I was told everything was working "as intended". This made fans doubly upset.
"The poise stat is working as intended and is not 'turned off' as some fans have theorised," a spokesperson for Bandai Namco told me. "The stat works differently than in past games and is more situational, which seems to be the reason for the confusion."
Recently, I was given an opportunity to email a set of questions to series director Hidetaka Miyazaki — stay tuned for more on that later this week — and I asked him about his studio's lack of communication regarding poise.
"This isn't something we are particularly proud of," said Miyazaki. "With how things are handled now, it can be improved and this is an agenda item we'll be working on in the future."
I'd hoped Miyazaki would elaborate on what poise is in response to my question! He, uh, did not. The debate continues, but hopefully this signals From Software is learning that being vague isn't always the right move.